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We seem to be stuck at an impasse on this issue.

Is funnest a word or not?

If so, does it mean "most fun"?

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-1: Check a dictionary. –  J D OConal Oct 15 '10 at 0:48
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@JD different dictionaries gave different answers... hence my problem –  tzenes Oct 15 '10 at 1:22
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Well, then we can't provide any more insight than the dictionary. What sort of language are you trying to use it in? Formal, casual, written, spoken, etc? It's in the Oxford English dictionary, so I would say that it is a word. –  J D OConal Oct 15 '10 at 1:44
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The issue if "if it's in the dictionary, it's a word" misses some subtlety, no? Of course funnest is a word, in the sense that people use it. I imagine that you're asking whether it's standard English, which as J D suggests, is a matter of establishing what context you're asking in. FWIW, here's Grammar Girl's take on the issue: grammar.quickanddirtytips.com/is-funnest-a-word.aspx –  Mike Pope Oct 15 '10 at 4:14
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My 2 cents, do not use "funnest", replace it with "the best". E.g.: "That was the funnest party ever!" vs "That was the best party ever!" For the nit-picky, the best way of saying the above would be "That was the most fun I've ever had at a party". p.s. English is not my first language –  roman m Oct 21 '10 at 22:53
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6 Answers 6

up vote 14 down vote accepted

Taken from Wiktionary:

Funnest is a regular superlative of the adjective fun. However, the use of fun as an adjective is itself still often seen as informal or casual and to be avoided in formal writing, and this would apply equally to the superlative form. Merriam-Webster, however, gives fun as an adjective without comment, and states that funner and funnest are ‘sometimes’ used. Because of the remaining stigma, most fun may be preferred in formal writing.

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This is a quote and should be treated and trusted as such. The last statement is a quote too , from a curated source. –  PatrickS Jan 11 '12 at 3:25
    
@tchrist I can envision (well, enhear?) a native speaker saying such things. Funner and funnest are most definitely not the regular forms, where I'm from at least. –  Matt Эллен Aug 3 '12 at 11:11
    
"the use of fun as an adjective is itself still often seen as informal or casual and to be avoided in formal writing". What is the word "fun" if not an adjective? –  HelloGoodbye Dec 28 '13 at 3:23
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Given that every English speaker would understand you, it's fine. It's a word. Don't worry too much about what dictionaries say, they are trying to report on the language, not prescribe it.

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I just want to add that you should simply be aware of the audience and situation that you are dealing with before selecting a word. If X is a word that means Z, it doesn't mean that it is necessarily appropriate to use X at any time to mean Z. Words also carry other baggage that makes them funny, formal, rude, old-fashioned, friendly, intimate, trendy, unintelligent, etc. If people consistently understand you, it's a word — but in the case of "funnest", it is heavily informal and might sound uneducated if used in all situations. But with your friends it would be just fine. –  Kosmonaut Oct 15 '10 at 13:50
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Every English speaker understands "ain't," too, but I wouldn't suggest using that, either. –  Andy Lester Oct 15 '10 at 21:22
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Sometimes "ain't" is the better or more appropriate choice — again, it just depends on the particular situation. In the case of "ain't", certainly none of those appropriate situations would be in any way formal. –  Kosmonaut Oct 15 '10 at 21:28
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I disagree with an argument that 'If a native speaker understands you, then it's fine'. Every native speaker understands 'I are going at the store', but it is also just plain wrong. Prescriptivism gets a bad rap from unpleasant school memories of nitpicking, but there's a level of prescriptivism that is necessary for non-native speakers to be able to sound native. –  Mitch May 14 '11 at 17:10
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I wouldn't use "funnest" anywhere but in the most colloquial setting. Certainly I would not use it in anything written.

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"Funnest" has good English morphology. For instance, it doesn't begin with the glottal "ng" sound, which doesn't occur in English at the start of a word. That kind of thing would tend to spoil all chances of an utterance from becoming an English word.

It is derived from "fun", which is already an English adjective, and it is derived according to a rule that derives many existing superlatives. So you have here a good candidate for a word which could easily pass into usage among a group of English-speaking people, and evidently it has.

The only problem is that it's not widely used.

The human brain probably handles language not simply with with rigid rules, but through the memorization of a large number of special cases and exceptions based on examples and correction during language acquisition.

This is why numerous irregularities can happily exist.

Examples that are not heard are sometimes ruled out by native speakers as ungrammatical.

"Funnest" sounds strange simply because it's rarely heard, other than from children (who are usually going to be corrected to say "most fun" instead, thereby ensuring that they too will come to regard "funnest" as strange, when they will have long forgotten that they uttered it when they were small.)

On the other hand, "funner" and "funnest" are not so unheard of that it has not made its way into some dictionaries, such as Merriam-Webster.

If a word is in at least one major dictionary, it's safe to regard it as a word.

Some dictionaries may be more conservative than others, but, on the absolute scale, they are maintained by some pretty darn conservative people who will not too casually lend their support to a new word. If some of them think something is a word, that's probably good enough for the rest of us.

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As reported by the NOAD, fun is used as adjective in informal contexts; its superlative is funnest, while funner is its comparative.

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Funner makes me shudder. For some reason "more fun" is firmly embedded in my psyche as the correct expression. "funnest" doesn't raise the same reaction, for reasons I don't understand.

When someone says "it's funner", it makes me believe that there's been a lapse in their education.

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protected by Jasper Loy Apr 22 '12 at 21:54

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